If there's one thing I get constant cravings for, it's Mexican food. Ok, so it's mostly for chips and salsa and margaritas, but I love me a good taco or enchilada, too. Luckily, I'm discovering that good Mexican food isn't so hard to pull off at home (especially when you have a husband who makes fab margaritas to go with it!).
These are recipes inspired by a few I found in the "One Big Roast, Three Great Meals" chapters of my America's Test Kitchen Cooking for Two books. I have yet to perfect the carnitas (though I made a very good version here). This version was good, but not as rich and flavorful as other carnitas I've had. However, I think I've nailed the (mock) posole. I've never had an authentic posole to compare it to, but this was one delicious soup! It was thick and spicy and hearty and all-around yummy! Oh, and my mango salsa ... amazing. It's the perfect balance of spicy and sweet and so, so fresh. In fact, I just might go dig into that salsa now ...
Mexican Pulled Pork (Carnitas)
1 (3 lb.) pork butt
2 cups water
1 small onion, peeled and halved
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon oregano
Salt and pepper
1 orange, halved
Adjust oven rack to lower middle position and preheat oven to 300 degrees. Combine pork, water, onion, lime juice, bay leaves, cumin, oregano, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a large Dutch oven. Juice the orange and add the juice and orange halves to the pot. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cover, transfer pot to oven, and cook until meat is very tender, about 2 hours.
Remove pot from oven and turn oven to broil. Discard orange halves, onion, and bay leaves. Remove pork to cutting board. Bring braising liquid to a simmer over medium-high heat and cook, stirring often, until liquid is syrupy and reduced to about 1 cup, about 8 to 12 minutes.
Using 2 forks, pull pork apart. Gently toss with reduced braising liquid and season with salt and pepper. Spread pork in an even layer on a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet.
Place baking sheet on lower-middle oven rack and broil until top of meat is well-browned and edges are slightly crisp, about 10 minutes, flipping once. Serve with warm tortillas and desired garnishes (I chose the onion-cilantro-lime mixture I wrote about here). Reserve about 2/3 of meat for other recipes.
Spicy Mexican Pork Stew (Posole)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 shallot, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons chipotle chile in adobo, minced
1/8 teaspoon oregano
1 tablespoon flour
2 cups chicken broth
3/4 cup canned hominy, drained and rinsed
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1 1/2 cups cooked pork
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
Salt and pepper
Heat oil in medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in shallot and cook until softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in garlic, chili powder, chipotles, and oregano and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in flour and cook 1 minute.
Stir in chicken broth and bring to simmer over medium-high heat. Stir in hominy and bell pepper, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until bell pepper is just tender, 5 to 10 minutes.
Stir in pork and continue to cook until heated through, about 2 minutes. Off heat, stir in cilantro and season with salt and pepper. Grab a spoon!
Pulled Pork Nachos with Mango Salsa (um ... Nachos)
1 mango, peeled and chopped
1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and finely chopped
1/3 cup red onion, finely chopped
1/2 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
2 to 3 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Salt (to taste)
24 multigrain tortilla chips
1/2 cup cooked, pulled pork
1/3 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
Sour cream, for topping
To make salsa, toss all ingredients together in a bowl. Set aside.
To make nachos, heat broiler. Layer half of chips in a small casserole dish. Layer half of pork and half of cheese over chips. Top with remaining chips, then pork, then cheese. Broil until cheese is melted and pork is heated through, about 5 minutes. Remove from oven and top with 1/2 cup salsa and a dollop of sour cream. Dig in!
If you like these recipes, you may also like ...
Quick Chicken and Cheese Tamales
Chicken Tortilla Soup
Enchilada Suizas Stacked Casserole